With cracks in the stucco, peeling wood, rusting metal and water leakage, it’s no stretch to say that the Ansel B. Cook House in Libertyville, Ill., needed a makeover.
|DiVinci Painters seeks to raise funds to restore the Victorian exterior of the Ansel B. Cook house in Libertyville, Ill.|
The former residence of one of the Chicagoland area’s most successful contractors and builders has fallen into a state of disrepair.
But thanks to a valiant community fund-raising effort led by a local painting contractor, the historic structure appears to be on its way to restoration and rebirth.
Mike Foley, owner of DiVinci Painters of Highland Park, told the local Pioneer Press, “This really is the crown jewel of Libertyville and to see it falling into disrepair was really disheartening.”
The house was built by Cook in 1878 and was thought to be designed by architect William W. Boyington, according to the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society. Boyington also designed the landmark Chicago Water Tower.
| Ansel B. Cook|
Cook was one of the most successful contractors in the Chicago area and made a large portion of his fortune by supplying stone for rebuilding efforts after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the society says.
His work included the American Express Company’s office building, structures on Tuttle Block, Bryant Block and other well-known sections of the Windy City, the society said.
In addition to his contracting career, Cook held various positions in the political arena, including service in the Illinois State Legislature, alderman of Chicago’s 11th ward, and president of the Chicago City Council, the historical society said.
|The structure last received a paint restoration facelift more than 10 years ago. Today, the building suffers from cracks in the stucco, peeling wood, rusting metal and water leakage.|
Cook’s home in Libertyville is recognized as the first permanent dwelling in the community and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Upon his death in 1921, Cook deeded the property to the Village of Libertyville to be used as a library.
The interior and exterior were remodeled to accommodate such use.
The Victorian home has undergone restoration a few times over the years, with the most recent project involving exterior painting in 2000, Foley said.
In 2011, DiVinci Painters bid on painting the exterior façade of the structure; however, the Village of Libertyville did not have the funds to move forward on the project.
A Connection to Village’s Past
Instead of abandoning the goal of a restoration, Foley recently joined forces with fellow resident and local business owner Roch Tranel to establish a non-profit organization called Paint the Town Foundation.org, to raise money to restore the historic exterior.
|Mike Foley, left, and Roch Tranel established “Paint the Town Foundation.org” to raise money for the restoration project.|
“Mike and I have raised our children in Libertyville and we wanted to give back and we recognize the importance of the Cook House to the Village of Libertyville,” Tranel told the Pioneer Press. “I felt like it was the right thing to do.”
The estimated cost of the project is $50,000.
“The goal is to raise $20,000 and restore the exterior at cost through various fundraising efforts,” Foley said.
Foley also said paint and coatings maker Benjamin Moore & Company is contributing as a strategic partner in the effort. The company’s Aura exterior paint will be used in the project.
Pending funding, the work is set to begin in the spring.
In addition to sprucing up the house with a fresh coat of paint, Foley said he is interested in uncovering the original paint color scheme of the home. That process is in the beginning stages, and Foley is working with Michael Kollman, the architect in charge of many Libertyville preservation projects. Kollman also was involved in the exterior repainting project in 2000.
“I am scheduled to obtain all his historical information this month,” Foley said, adding that his team has removed paint samples from the structure and plans to have them undergo analysis.